In July, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) published its first annual energy statement which summarised the government’s planned actions to tackle energy issues and build a sustainable green economy.
Part of the solution to the energy crisis lies in renewable technologies and microgeneration. The construction industry, worth some £124 billion to the UK economy, is on the front line in this drive for renewable energy.
Microgeneration installations in the UK number around 100,000, but this will grow rapidly. This is partly because since April 2010, homeowners and businesses have been able to generate their own electricity and sell the surplus back to energy suppliers.
Many installations, particularly solar photovoltaic, are already taking place in the social housing sector and in August 2010 it was announced that local authorities would be allowed to sell surplus energy back to the grid.
This has the potential to increase funding and in turn create demand for a skilled installation workforce to fit microgeneration product.
It won’t be long until private residential homeowners learn about the benefits of feed-in tariffs and that incentives will be available for homeowners to install the technologies and reap the savings to be had.
These incentives won’t necessarily be from government; private business will install the technologies for free, while reaping the financial benefits from the feed-in tariffs themselves at high profit.
In the coming years, thousands of homes across the country will need technology installed which will provide them with ‘free’ energy.
But only accredited contractors can install the technology, potentially with a high profit margin and a market ready to expand rapidly.
Just as specifiers seek out the NICEIC or the Gas Safe logo because of the assessment-based criteria and peace of mind they provide, so this microgeneration opportunity needs certification through assessment.
It’s called the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). Crucially, homeowners and landlords cannot claim the feed-in tariff unless they have used an MCS-registered contractor and have MCS-certified product installed.
Installers will also need good knowledge of the products they install and be able to communicate the benefits and operation.
Dealing with homeowners with these new technologies will bring its own necessities, such as contracts, robust complaints procedures and a ‘soup to nuts’ approach to the installation; that is, from planning to commissioning the technology and teaching the householder to read the meter information at the end.
Installers who can combine technical skill with the ability to educate the end user will benefit most from this opportunity.
Emma McCarthy is chief operating officer of the NICEIC